Logano says he'll be candidate to replace Stewart at Gibbs

Updated: July 9, 2008, 12:51 PM ET
By David Newton | ESPN.com

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. -- Joey Logano acknowledged on Wednesday that he is a candidate to replace Tony Stewart in the No. 20 Sprint Cup car at Joe Gibbs Racing next season.

"It has been brought up a few times," Logano said as he arrived at JGR for a morning workout. Logano wasn't shocked to hear that Stewart will be released from his final year at JGR next season to pursue other opportunities.

Stewart was scheduled to tell his team on Wednesday that this will be his last season, then announce on Thursday in Chicago that he has bought into Haas CNC Racing and will drive for that team with another driver -- Ryan Newman, according to sources, is all but a done deal -- next year.

Stewart will unveil his new car with Office Depot as the primary sponsor at a news conference in Indianapolis in two weeks, sources said.

"It's been coming for a long time," Logano said. "It may have surprised a lot of people, but a lot knew it was coming."

Logano, 18, said he will focus the rest of this season on his Nationwide Series ride and hope to get into a few Cup races before the end of the year to prepare him for next season. In four Nationwide starts, Logano has finished sixth, 31st, first and second.

"It's a big deal," Logano said of Stewart leaving. "But Joe Gibbs Racing will go on and continue to do well. I don't see the team taking a very big hit."

Steve deSouza, vice president of JGR's Nationwide driver development department, said Logano is ready for Cup racing.

"Change is inevitable, I don't care what industry you're a part of," he said. "At the end of the day we have a good, strong organization. We've seen a lot of people come and go, and this is a significant one, but we'll continue to do well."

David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at dnewtonespn@aol.com.

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ESPN Carolina Panthers reporter

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